Background: Although both maternal prepregnancy body mass index (BMI) and gestational weight gain (GWG) may affect birth weight, their separate and joint associations with complications of pregnancy and delivery and with postpartum weight retention are unclear.
Objectives: We aimed to investigate the combined associations of prepregnancy BMI and GWG with pregnancy outcomes and to evaluate the trade-offs between mother and infant for different weight gains.
Design: Data for 60892 term pregnancies in the Danish National Birth Cohort were linked to birth and hospital discharge registers. Self-reported total GWG was categorized as low (<10 kg), medium (10-15 kg), high (16-19 kg), or very high (>or=20 kg). Adjusted associations of prepregnancy BMI and GWG with outcomes of interest were estimated by logistic regression analyses.
Results: High and very high GWG added to the associations of high prepregnancy BMI with cesarean delivery and were strongly associated with high postpartum weight retention. Moreover, greater weight gains and high maternal BMI decreased the risk of growth restriction and increased the risk of the infant's being born large-for-gestational-age or with a low Apgar score. Generally, low GWG was advantageous for the mother, but it increased the risk of having a small baby, particularly for underweight women.
Conclusions: Heavier women may benefit from avoiding high and very high GWG, which brings only a slight increase in the risk of growth restriction for the infant. High weight gain in underweight women does not appear to have deleterious consequences for them or their infants, but they may want to avoid low GWG to prevent having a small baby.